Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Homolovi State Park: Suvoyuki Day

Making our way towards Flagstaff, Arizona, we stayed at a couple of RV parks/campgrounds that I want to make note.  One, Route 66 Casino and RV Park near Albuquerque, NM was one of the newest, most quiet & spacious campgrounds we have encountered and with awesome amenities too.  The pool was clean and warm, the casino's food a delicious, good value.  We would stay here again.

We spent 2 days at Route 66 RV Resort to relax, enjoy the pool and their good food.  On one of our days we took a short trip into Albuquerque to visit the beautiful Casa Rondena Winery.

We continued westward on Interstate 40, to Winslow, Arizona and Homolovi State Park.  We had made reservations earlier in the month hoping to get our timing right to participate in their annual Suvoyuki Day.  The State Park's campground is about as quiet as you can find with only the wind and the occasional sounds of crows and coyotes to be heard.  We enjoyed a spacious pull thru site with 50 amps and water hookups.

 Little Boy's enthusiasm to go out indicated this is his favorite campground yet!

I did spot several cottontail desert rabbits in the campground and a couple of fast moving jack rabbits hopping throughout the outlying areas.

Checking in at the Homolovi State Park Visitor Center, we see preparations are underway for their signature event, Suvoyuki Day.  This annual educational day is in part sponsored by the Hopi Tribe to share their history, lifestyle, celebrations and culture.

When we arrive, we find one of the Homolovi State Park's rangers, Gwen, preparing the underground pit for the traditional way of roasting corn.  Because she is of Hopi descent, she is quite knowledgeable of their traditions. She was working very hard to prepare the roasting pit for the next day's activities. The pit was first filled with coals/hot embers, then layered with corn stalks, next many ears of corn still in the husk were added, followed by more top layers of corn stalks.  She then poured a bucket of water on top of the layers and covered the hole with clay mud to hold in the steam.  The pit had a side ventilation hole added to allow the embers to get air and the whole thing cooked/steamed over night.

The next morning, at 8am, Ronnie and I were there to see the park ranger open up the pit. She took the top layer of corn stalks off and she pulled out tender ears of steamed corn.

A Hopi Blessing is offered when the first ear of corn is removed from the pit. Each person there was given the opportunity to participate in the Hopi tradition, sharing a bite off of that first ear of corn.

This table was covered with cooked corn and it was sweet, tender and delicious.  The fresh cooked corn was available all day to anyone who wanted some.

 At 9am, Ronnie and I took the tour of Homolovi Ruins Site 2, an Ancestral Hopi Village.  The State Park's ranger informed us that these ruins have been disturbed over time and one of the primary reasons for the State Park is to offer protection for these historical, Puebloan ancestral grounds. In an effort to protect and preserve these sites, the Hopi people supported the idea of Homolovi State Park.  Established in 1986, the park also serves as a center of research for the late migration period of the Hopi from the 1200's to the late 1300's.
This is a reconstructed kiva room displaying how the walls were built and how air/fire ventilation was achieved.  The roof timbers are missing.

These ruins are a little different from others we have visited in this area.  There are no rooms to walk into or stone walls to admire, only the scattered rocks and smallish slabs we see here.  The Park Ranger leading our tour states that over time sand and erosion have filled in the rooms, many collapsing in on themselves while also aided with many years of plundering by artifact seekers looking for pottery remnants.  It is estimated these ruins were inhabited between 1330-1360.

You see many pottery shards on the ground, it is illegal to touch or take anything from these protected lands.  This is a scared place to the Hopi people.  To them, each broken piece of pottery, stone fragment and figure carved into stone by their ancestors is sacred and deserves respect.

Back at the Homolovi State Park Visitor Center, we find Hopi potter Bobby Silas demonstrating their ancient, traditional firing process using lignite, a soft brownish coal, to create the heat for firing his pots.  Bobby discusses how he digs his own clay on the Hopi grounds, gathers his own lignite from the area and hand-builds the Hopi pottery in the prehistoric/traditional way.

Here, the potter is stacking his wares & art tiles on top of the smoldering lignite before adding more lignite pieces on top.

Displayed here are some of Bobby Silas' pottery.  The small ornaments in the tray have not been fired, that's why they are a different color from the decorative bowls.
After about 4 hours, the lignite had burned off leaving a hot heap of ash surrounding finished pots.  Here, Bobby Silas is sifting through those hot ashes to uncover his hardened pottery and tiles.

Ronnie and I also enjoyed a traditional Hopi lunch of Red Chile Pork served in Indian Fry Bread.

And last, the anticipated Hopi Celebration Dances shared by the Hopi Dance Group Palhik Mana and Deer Dancers-Alrye Polequaptewa.  It was a hot day so this afternoon event was gratefully met with a cloudy sky and much cooler temperatures.
 We were informed this one was called The Water Maiden Dance.

What a memorable day filled with educational information and renewed admiration, respect for the Hopi culture.  Ronnie and I marvel at how they have remained true to their heritage, resisting outside influences. We were fortunate to view Hopi ceremony and celebration and leave with tummies full of their good, sweet corn too.

Quote taken from the day's program:
"Homolovi" is the Hopi for "Place of the Little Hills"-the traditional name for Winslow, Arizona.

More later..

Post Script: We are now in Flagstaff, Arizona where the daytime temps rage from 85-89 degrees and nighttime temps 49-53 degrees. Humidity around 35%.. finally found a little bit of cooler weather.

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